An inquiry was launched over the summer into antisemitic bullying at Brighton Secondary College (BSC) in Melbourne, Australia following an investigative report by a local Jewish newspaper.
The 124-page report discovered an extensive list of alleged incidences of bullying “that spanned years”. It included descriptions into how one Jewish student had been lured to a local park where he was subsequently robbed and assaulted by fellow students, another had been the target of students shouting, “Get in my oven” and “Heil Hitler”, and yet another was reportedly threatened with a knife in a school bathroom.
The independent inquiry was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Education and Training, and concluded with eighteen recommendations for the school alongside a plan, with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, to improve understandings of the specific nature and manifestations of antisemitism. This will be made available to all educators and teaching staff in the Australian state.
The BSC principal has welcomed the recommendations, pledging to introduce an online form for students to report antisemitic behaviour and incidents and committing to the ongoing monitoring of all school facilities to prevent hateful graffiti and to guarantee its immediate removal. Following the report, the school is holding a prompt review of school policies that will broaden the definition of racial harassment to include religious vilification and discrimination.
However, legal representatives of the parents of the young victims have expressed regret that the report failed to hold the current leadership of the school to account. In a public statement it was argued that the families do not believe the findings acknowledge the experiences of those affected, with many students fearing a hostile environment and suffering “genuine distress” as a consequence. The majority of Jewish students impacted had to leave BSC due to rising levels of antisemitism within the institution and the failure of the college to protect their safety and mental wellbeing.
As a result, families are reportedly seeking to continue the fight for justice for their children.